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Press Release

Man Convicted of Hate Crime for Using a Stun Device During a Racially-Motivated Assault of His Neighbor

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Following a three-day trial, a jury found Mark Porter, 59, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, guilty yesterday of committing a federal hate crime when he used a stun device during the racially-motivated assault of a neighbor at his apartment complex in Draper, Utah.  Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division John Gore, U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah John W. Huber, and Special Agent in Charge for the Salt Lake City Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Eric Barnhart announced that the defendant was found guilty of the only offense charged in the indictment, a violation 42 U.S.C. § 3631 for using force and the threat of force to injure, intimidate, and interfere with an African-American man because of his race and because of his occupancy of a nearby apartment in the complex. The jury further found that the defendant used a dangerous weapon – a stun cane.

Evidence presented at trial showed that the defendant shouted a racial slur at the victim’s 7-year-old son as the boy rode on a scooter in a common area at the apartment complex.  After the defendant told the child to “get out of here,” he used the stun cane to injure the victim, knocking the victim to the ground.  The defendant then used a racial slur to refer to the victim and his son and told them both to “get out of here.” 

Evidence presented at trial also established that, prior to the incident, the defendant had told an employee and maintenance staff at the apartment complex that he did not want to live near any African-Americans.  Immediately prior to the incident with the boy and his father, the defendant told another neighbor that he thought that African-Americans needed to be “exterminated.”

“Porter’s violent conduct, motivated by his intolerance of another race, is an egregious crime that will not be tolerated by this Justice Department,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “We will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals and vigorously prosecute hate crime cases.”

“There is no place in Utah for race-motivated hatred and violence,” said U.S. Attorney John W. Huber. “All families deserve the opportunity to live peaceably in their homes where they may pursue happiness in safe environments. The jury in this case spoke on behalf of our Utah communities and definitively stated that this criminal conduct will not be tolerated.”

Sentencing is set for May 30 before U.S. District Judge Dee Benson of the District of Utah. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $250,000.

The case was investigated by the Salt Lake City Field Office of the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Drew Yeates of the United States Attorney’s Office and Trial Attorney Rose E. Gibson of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.

Updated March 22, 2018

Hate Crimes
Press Release Number: 18-344